Final: Dragoneer's Aria a slow slay for PSP
by Marcus Lai

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NIS America's Dragoneer's Aria is a standard RPG that is inefficient for the PSP handheld. The slow-paced battles, long conversations, and large three-dimensional locations require a lot patience and likely many extra batteries to play.

In Dragoneer's Aria, players take the role of Valen Kessler, a newly trained Dragoneer who must investigate a mysterious Black Dragon that destroys the royal palace. Valen finds a girl named Euphe who embarks on the journey protect the six elemental dragons of the world.

The game is separated into town locations to talk to townspeople, purchase new equipment, recover energy, and field locations to battle and venture to new areas. In addition to weapons and armor, players can equip Lusce, accessories that will boost functionality like Heal and various spells. Also, the party can equip Dragon Orbs to facilitate powerful elemental attacks.

In the field, player can venture into a large three-dimensional world with visible enemies lurking in each location.

In battle, players can Attack, use Mana, Guard, use an Item, or Escape. Mana, which allows for another range of attacks, can be increased by attacking, guarding, or using an item. The Guard function introduces an unnecessary 'Wheel of Fortune' type system that requires players to hit the X button on key locations of a spinning wheel to guard effectively. Attacks on multiple enemies display damage to each enemy one at a time to drain away battle time.

Additionally, throwaway enemies employ a large array of spells and attacks, including Paralyze and Confuse, to make battles increasingly slow.

The graphics engine is decent at 30 frames per second. Locations and character models feature solid builds that employ a fantasy-based artistry. Towns and locations, however, can be too large for long treks between any two points. The soundtrack is decent and carries orchestral tunes to fit each location. English voice acting is average and cinematic conversations can't be skipped.

Dragoneer's Aria is a console-like RPG that was shoehorned into a handheld. The lengthy battles, mile-apart locations, and load times in-between conversations require time unfit for an efficient handheld RPG experience. However, the game offers an above-average selection of attacks and customization that will please patient RPG fans.

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